Canadians’ trust in the legacy media has reached a new low, according to a report from the Reuters Institute and the University of Oxford.
The loss in media trust shown by the 2022 Digital News Report was mainly among anglophone Canadians, with francophones having higher trust levels in legacy outlets.
Only 39% of anglophone Canadians said they “trust most news,” a 16% drop from 2016. Meanwhile, 47% of francophones “trust most news,” an 8% drop from 2016.
The combined rating of Canadians trusting “most news” equates to 42%, a 13% drop since 2016.
The report also suggests fewer Canadians are using many major legacy media outlets’ online platforms. Compared to 2016, 5% less of anglophones use CBC’s online platform and 3% less use CTV News’. The study also found fewer Canadians were using Global, Buzzfeed and CNN’s online news platforms.
CBC News, the Toronto Star and CP24 are the anglophone Canadian outlets with the highest amounts of distrust. Canadians also considerably distrust American media outlets including CNN, The New York Times and Fox News.
According to the report, less Canadians also believe that the legacy media is independent and free of political or business influence.
Only 27% percent of anglophone Canadians believe the media is not politically influenced, down 17% from 2016. The figure held up at 38% for francophones, making for a combined trust rating of 29%.
The study also found that trust in the legacy media is lower among younger people, with those under 35 showing greater scepticism.
Further, the study found viewers are avoiding legacy media outlets altogether. According to the study, 71% of people are avoiding the legacy media, a 16% increase from 2017.
Many respondents cited the legacy media’s Covid-19 and political coverage as well as negative impacts on mental and physical health as reasons for tuning out of the media.
While this is grim news for legacy media outlets, the Digital News Report shows more Canadians are paying for news online – a positive indication for independent and grassroots media, according to The Conversation.
The findings indicate that 15% of Canadians pay for online news content, up 6% from 2016 where that figure sat at 9%.
The Digital News Report 2022 was conducted while the Freedom Convoy demonstrations were taking place in Ottawa.
Many observers accused the legacy media of having a bias against the convoy, after many claims made by the legacy media about the movement were proven to be wrong. The CBC, for example, had to retract two stories related to the convoy.
Despite fewer Canadians tuning into legacy media outlets, the Trudeau government has committed millions to bailout media outlets and increased funding to the CBC – another possible factor in the loss of legacy media trust.
A survey by the public relations firm Edelman had also found a loss Canadians’ trust in the legacy media, with 61% of respondents saying they believed journalists are “purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations,” which was up 12% from the previous year.